IDAHO In recent months, Idaho's militia movement has attempted to achieve mainstream acceptance. Carefully toning down his group's rhetoric, militia leader Samuel Sherwood, of the Blackfoot-based United States Militia Association (USMA), has told Idaho lawmakers that his organization is working for change within the political system. On other occasions, however, Sherwood has derided the state's government and has seemed to encourage violence against its representatives. Sherwood has exploited local dissatisfaction with federal environmental policy to boost his recruiting efforts. In January 1995, a federal judge issued an order prohibiting mining, logging and ranching in five National Forests in Idaho to protect endangered salmon in the area. The move threatened the livelihoods of many Idahoans including residents of the small town of Challis. Sherwood. plying the fears and anger of the community, reportedly encouraged Challis residents to join his militia to fight such federal restrictions and declared: We're ready to look the federal government in the eye. We want a bloodless revolution. but if the bureaucrats won't listen we'll give them a civil war to think about. All it's going to take, is this crazy judge to close down central Idaho and there'll be blood in the streets. Threat to Legislators Sherwood issued another menacing threat in March. After meeting with Idaho Lieutenant Governor Butch Otter, Sherwood complained that some Idaho politicians ignored the interests of state citizens in favor of a federal agenda. His advice to followers, widely reported. was: "Go up and look legislators in the face, because some day you may have to blow it off." Sherwood has claimed that state militia members helped Republican Anne Fox win election last November as Idaho Superintendent of Education. According to the Associated Press, Sherwood said that 1,000 militia members were on hand to assist the campaign effort by answering telephones and providing other services. After Fox's victory at the polls, Sherwood served briefly as a member of her transition team. In February 1995, Fox spoke at a USMA meeting in Boise. On the podium, she expressed approval for the militia's strong opposition to gun control and its calls for states' rights. On April 15, 1995, militia members, tax protesters and constitutionalists from across the country, gathered in Post Falls for a day-long seminar. Speakers before the reported crowd of 300 included Militia of Montana leader John Trochmann, anti-tax activist M. J. "Red" Beckman, of Billings, Montana (see Anned & Dangerous), and Eustace Mullins, of Staunton, Virginia, a longtime anti-Jewish propagandist and conspiracy theorist. Bo Gritz Far-right figure and former Green Beret James "Bo" Gritz, who is building a survivalist community in central Idaho, has engaged in activities that have closely paralleled those of the militia movement. He has traveled the country conducting a weapons and survival training course he calls SPIKE -- Specially Prepared Individuals for Key Events -- and has called for the execution as traitors of the "tyrants" responsible for the government's actions in the Randy Weaver standoff in northern Idaho and the Branch Davidian conflagration at Waco. Recently, Gritz deplored the April 19 Oklahoma city bombing yet praised its technique. At a speech in Dallas, Texas, he labeled the blast a "Rembrandt," and said he considered it a "masterpiece of science and art put together." A radio station in Charlevoix, Michigan, alarmed by Gritz's remarks, decided to suspend indefinitely broadcasts of Gritz's daily shortwave program, "Freedom Calls." After the station was inundated with calls protesting the move, however, "Freedom Calls" returned to the air two days later. ~ ADL Fact Finding Report, "Beyond the Bombing: The Militia Menace Grows," Anti-Defamation League, 1995.
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